Around the clock, the janitors at Mercy College work to keep the campus spick and span. Rotaract Manhattan recognized their hard work and decided to honor them by having a Janitor Appreciation Day.
For one hour in March, the janitors of Mercy College didn’t have to clean because Rotaract Manhattan took over their duties.
Rotaract Manhattan is a group of dedicated individuals who believe in giving back to the community through acts of service. They have volunteered with the Bowery Mission, the NYC Rescue Mission, and Special Olympics. Last spring, the members of the club brainstormed more acts of kindness they could do for the community. One member suggested lending a helping hand to the janitors of Mercy College and the team was sold on the idea. Khadijah Guin, President of Rotaract Manhattan, felt the janitors needed a day of recognition because they didn’t receive it as often as they should.
“I believe janitors are some of the least appreciated,” Guin said.
Janitors’ responsibilities include sweeping and mopping floors, steam-cleaning carpets, dusting furniture and disinfecting restrooms. David Young, Vice President of Rotaract Manhattan, believed that helping the janitors would be the best option to show gratitude for what they do on campus.
“Apart from the cancer walks and fundraisers we’ve done, we started thinking about what we can do on campus. After discussing different ideas, we eventually thought of Janitor Appreciation Day,” Young said.
Members of Rotaract Manhattan divided into different groups to tackle multiple areas of the Manhattan campus. At last year’s Janitor Appreciation Day, Young wiped the windows of the Faculty Office while his team members started in the lobby area of the college. They cleaned the couches and single chairs, which can sometimes have food buried in the cracks.
Guin appreciated the daily work the janitors do after the event.
“The couches had food in them and it was disgusting,” Guin said.
After thoroughly cleaning the coaches, the team worked on cleaning tables in the sixth and seventh floor classrooms. Cleaning the campus for the hour helped the janitors take a load off and allowed Rotaract Manhattan to get a sense of exactly what the janitors do each day. Moving forward, they made Janitor Appreciation Day an annual event.
On March 1, all the members gathered to help clean the campus. Starting with the sixth floor lobby, member Amanda Dominguez cleaned the receptionist desk. She sanitized the desk as and emptied garbage bins. Marilyn Melendez, receptionist of the sixth floor lobby for the Manhattan campus, loved that the students acknowledged the work the janitors do.
“It was sweet and thoughtful of them because the janitors hardly get recognized. Having the students want to help the janitors was something special,” Melendez said.
Throughout the hour, janitor Nicolas “Juan” Reyes, supervised the team. Reyes has worked at Mercy’s Manhattan campus for four years. Last spring when Rotaract Manhattan approached him about wanting to clean the campus, he was grateful.
“It felt good to have them help me for the day,” Reyes said.
This year, Reyes welcomed Rotaract Manhattan’s request to clean the campus for a second time in a row.
“I’m very appreciative for what the students did,” Reyes said.
Although he works hard to maintain the cleanliness of the campus, Reyes enjoys being around the people he works with. The Manhattan campus is divided into two floors so everyone knows each other. Since 2012, work for Reyes has been enjoyable because the faculty and staff make it better for him.
“Mercy feels like family, it feels like home,” Reyes expressed.
After Janitor Appreciation Day was complete, Rotaract Manhattan gave a card to Reyes. In the card, the team expressed how much they appreciate the janitors for keeping the campus clean. At their weekly meeting, Rotaract Manhattan reflected on Janitor Appreciation Day by sharing their thoughts. After helping Reyes clean the lobby, receptionist area, and sixth and seventh floor classrooms, Rotaract Manhattan had a greater appreciation for the work that the janitors do to keep the campus clean. They’ve been able to understand what it means to be a janitor by stepping in their shoes.
The respect Rotaract Manhattan has for the janitors continues to grow.
“It’s a great feeling to help people in general, but helping out the janitors at our school is a more meaningful feeling because you’re acknowledging their hard work by doing the daily tasks that they have to do, in which you get a sense of appreciation for them, and what they do for our campus,” Young said.
Rotaract Manhattan lives by the motto “Service Above Self” and next year they’ll be back to help the janitors of Mercy College and demonstrate their dedication to servicing the community.